Today, tomorrow and Thursday I'll be reminding everyone of deadline deals that the Twins pulled off over the last ten years. Some of these weren't exactly "deadline", and some of them I didn't even remember, but they all went down.
July 15, 2000
Minnesota Twins trade Butch Huskey and Todd Walker to the Colorado Rockies for Todd Sears
Obviously this was a deal meant to bolster the Rockies, who had just lost their tenth game in a row. In first place on July 3rd they hit a big skid, and with Mike Lansing struggling at second Colorado shipped Sears to Minnesota in return for the manager-maligned Walker and the disappointing Huskey.
It's widely known that Tom Kelly wasn't hot on Walker, in spite of his ability to be a good player on bad teams. Walker was in the midst of a terrible year, however, hitting just .234/.287/.325 with Minnesota. Moving to Coors payed immediate dividends, and in 57 games with the Rockies that season he raked: .316/.385/.544. Huskey, meanwhile, wasn't matching the moderate power expectations set for him as a free agent after he'd knocked out 74 homers from '96 to '99, playing terrible defense to match his terrible .223/.306/.353 line. But, like Walker, he raked after the change with a triple slash of .348/.432/.565 in Colorado. Unlike Walker, however, Huskey never had another Major League job after that and was out of baseball at 29.
For the Twins, they received a guy who had been posting impressive offensive numbers in the minor leagues. He hit for average, took a good ratio of walks and racked up extra base hits in bunches. But he was also 24 in double-A. Sears never did catch on with the Twins, collecting just 86 plate appearances with the Major League team (and just 94 plate appearances in his career as a whole), even though he would go on to be a minor league masher: .296/.386/.457 in nearly 3900 plate appearances.
More after the jump...
July 28, 2001
Minnesota Twins trade Mark Redman to the Detroit Tigers for Todd Jones
With a talented, young rotation consisting of Brad Radke, Joe Mays, Eric Milton and Kyle Lohse, the Twins felt they had an extra arm to spare to get some much-needed help for the bullpen. LaTroy Hawkins was off-and-on as the closer (at best), and veterans Hector Carrasco, Bob Wells and Travis Miller weren't consistently getting the job done, while a 22-year old Johan Santana was spending a lot of time as a swing man.
Eddie Guardado would close for the Twins down the stretch, but Todd Jones put up some good numbers to help solidify the bullpen of a team contending for the first time in a decade. Jones appeared in 24 games, pitching 19.1 innings with a 3.26 ERA, 15 strikeouts and 7 walks.
Redman, meanwhile, would make only two starts for the Tigers the rest of the season. He'd be a serviceable pitcher for a couple seasons afterward, and won a total of 65 games.
July 30, 2001
Minnesota Twins trade Matt Lawton to the New York Mets for Rick Reed
This one still makes me wonder. The Twins, in the midst of their first real competetive chance since 1992, dealt one of their best players for a veteran starting pitcher. Yes, the team probably needed another starter to pair with Mays and the Bradke if they were to head into the post-season, but the move left them with just two full-time players who would finish the year with an on-base percentage over .337. It was already an underwhelming offense. In retrospect, the Twins probably should have just stopped messing Santana around and kept him as a starter...problem solved.
Anyway, Rick Reed had been 8-6 with a 3.48 ERA in 20 starts for the Mets with an outstanding walk-to-strikeout ratio. After the move into the Dome, Reed struggled with American League hitters. In 12 starts with the Twins he went 4-6 with a 5.19 ERA, allowing more than one-and-a-half base runners per inning. He'd bounce back for a strong '02, before an '03 campaign that would be bad enough to put the lid on his career.
Lawton, meanwhile, was a different player for the Mets that season (.246/.352/.366), than he'd been for the Twins (.293/.396/.439). He'd have decent stints the rest of his career, including a solid '04, but mostly his best days were behind him...exemplified by his being suspended for PED use while with the Yankees. He limped through 29 plate appearances in '06 before calling it a career.
Minnesota would go on a bit of a skid after the trade, unable to take a division that nobody seemed to want to win. They fell out of first place for the final time on August 11th, and would spend every day for the rest of the season in second place...except September 30th, when they were momentarily third. The Mets would finish strong, going 28-12 to finish the year at 82-80 and in third place.
July 12, 2002
Minnesota Twins trade Brian Buchanon to the San Diego Padres for Jason Bartlett
Buck showed some promise as a minor league hitter, and as a 27-year old posted an .830 OPS for the Twins in 219 plate appearances in '01. Unfortunately he didn't pick up where he left off, hitting just .252/.294/.415 in 44 games in part-time duties in '02. And with the emergence of outfielders like Torii Hunter, Jacque Jones, Dustan Mohr and Bobby Kielty (with Michael Cuddyer and Mike Ryan waiting in the wings), Buck was expendable.
Flipped for a 21-year old infielder, Buchanon raked down the stretch for the Padres, batting .293/.363/.543. It wasn't to last, however, and while he had an okay season in '03 flamed out in '04. He was done with the Majors at 30.
The move for Bartlett is widely considered one of Terry Ryan's better trades, and with good reason. He'd go on to play 321 games for the Twins over 3+ seasons, hitting .272/.341/.362 and playing good defense in the process. Obviously he's still playing, even if he's having the worst season of his career as a 30-year old.
This trade didn't change anyone's fortunes for the season. The Padres still finished fifth, right where they were all year, while the Twins went on to win their first of five division championships in the decade.
July 16, 2003
Minnesota Twins trade Bobby Kielty to the Toronto Blue Jays for Shannon Stewart and Dave Gassner
One of the two best trade deadline deals the Twins pulled off over the last decade, if not THE best trade deadline deal the Twins pulled off over the last decade. Minnesota needed a legitimate leadoff hitter, since Jacque Jones wasn't exactly what a team looked for in a leadoff man...even if the occasional leadoff homer was awesome.
Kielty, 26 at the time and a promising hitter, fielder and base runner, wasn't quite having the season he'd had in '02, but his .370 on-base percentage was going to waste in an outfield boasting Hunter, Jones and a combination of plattoon hitters. He'd continue to be a useful piece for Oakland but he was flipped at the right time, and he never matched the potential he flashed in 2002.
Stewart, meanwhile, was still just 29. His line with Toronto that season had been a more-than-solid .294/.347/.449, but he wasn't stealing bases anymore and it looked like his elite days might be behind him (he was a .304/.371/.451 hitter from '97 to '02).
Instead of declining, however, Stewart went on to receive considerations from the Minnesota media for MVP. He raked, belting a triple slash of .322/.384/.470 in 304 plate appearances down the stretch and helping lead the Twins to their second division crown in a row. Minnesota went 46 - 23 after Stewart's arrival, taking first place for the final time on September 11th.
Stewart would sign a new deal with the Twins after the season, following up his '03 second half revival with another great year in '04. His final two seasons with the team were muddled in injuries and mediocre play due to them, however, and he hit just .279/.329/.383 in 176 games over those two years. He'd play two more seasons, one with Oakland and a final stop in Toronto, but his first year-and-a-half with the Twins were his blaze of glory.
See you tomorrow for 2004 - 2006!